Enforcement of judgments from commercial disputes has not been as easy as litigants have expected. However, what has transpired in Singapore and Dubai gives litigants greater comfort that enforcement will be better accepted.
In Singapore, the SICC was established by the Singapore High Court to hear international commercial disputes. In Dubai, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a financial freezone governed by the common law for civil matters with its own English language common law court. The courts of the DIFC are modeled on the English Commercial Court.
The SICC and DIFC are signatories to a memorandum of guidance and a memorandum of understanding dated January 19, 2015 which provides guidance for the mutual recognition and enforcement of court judgments between the two jurisdictions. Also, Singapore is a party to a limited number of treaties for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments (including India) and its judgments are enforceable in commonwealth countries (UK and US). Further, Dubai is a party to several memoranda with the English Commercial Court, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the High Court of Kenya and the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan.
The Hague Convention on the Choice of Court Agreements came into effect in 2005 and was adopted by 29 EU states in 2015. This Convention allows for the recognition and enforcement in Contracting States. The US, Mexico and Singapore are signatories to the Convention, although Singapore has not ratified the Convention. Upon ratification, judgments of the SICC will be enforceable in at least the 29 EU states. Dubai has not to date signed the Convention.
There are at least positive steps being taken by commercial courts to assist in the enforcement of foreign court judgments. Accordingly, commercial courts will be increasing in viability as alternatives to international commercial disputes.